My Bridge Fell Down; Where Is It Supposed to Go?

By Zayat, George | Strings, May 1, 2015 | Go to article overview

My Bridge Fell Down; Where Is It Supposed to Go?


Zayat, George, Strings


The position of your bridge is vital to your violin playing and sounding its best

Q: How can I find the exact position of the bridge when it has fallen?

-George Zayat

Violin maker James N. McKean responds:

A: Contrary to what many believe, the bridge is not glued to the top-it's held in position by the pressure of the strings.

And, as you have discovered, the bridge can easily slip out of position if the strings come loose, as they often do when the weather turns cold and dry and the pegs don't fit as well. The bridge's placement isn't arbitrary-in fact, making sure it's precisely where it's supposed to be is critical for the maximum performance of your instrument.

To a large extent, the sound of the violin is created by the rocking of the bridge when you draw the bow across the strings. The top is too thin to be able to support the bridge on its own, so inside there are two supports to hold it up and also distribute the vibrations. One is a long strip of spruce glued in place under the bass foot of the bridge. That's called a bassbar.

Underneath and slightly behind the treble foot of the bridge is the soundpost, a thin dowel of spruce wedged between the top and the back.

While the soundpost can be moved to adjust the balance and focus of the sound, the bassbar, of course, is where it is. So it's crucial that the bridge be exactly where it's supposed to be, relative to the bassbar, both for support, but also to make sure the bridge can rock the way it's supposed to.

How exact? Within half a millimeter. That kind of precision can be hard to ascertain if you're not a violin maker. If you look closely, you almost always find a tiny pinprick in the top by the treble foot of the bridge-this will have been done by the maker or by repair shops over time, to easily locate the correct bridge position if the bridge is moved.

The problem is, there might be several marks. In theory, the center of the treble bridge foot should line up with the inside notch on the f-hole-that's what those notches are there for. …

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My Bridge Fell Down; Where Is It Supposed to Go?
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